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Posted on Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 5:48 a.m.

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger: the gold standard for burger joints

By Julie Halpert


Outside of Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger.

OK. I admit it. Despite the fact that I was a student at the University of Michigan and have lived in Ann Arbor for nearly 20 years, I had never eaten at Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger.

The few times I've been tempted, long lines snaked out the door of the red awning-framed restaurant, where a giant snow bear is perched on the roof in the winter. Blimpy's has been in this spot since 1953, where it's continually received accolades from a host of local publications, and was featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

With so many new burger joints coming to town, the time seemed to be right to head to the original — and see if it lives up to all the billing.


Inside of Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger.

Rich Magner, who met his wife working at Blimpy's and has owned it since 1993, says the recipe for hamburger success is a simple one: "You order it, design it and watch it being cooked and then you get to eat it right away." High-quality meat, fresh ground every day, is another attraction for the six generations of Blimpy customers, he says.

I intentionally decided to go at 11:30, before the lunchtime rush, to avoid those long lines. My son, a veteran of the Blimpy's experience, warned me that if I dawdled, or didn't follow the strict ordering procedure, the cook might yell at me. But when I went, with a fellow Blimpy novice, we received only the kindest treatment from the owner. Perhaps he took pity on us as we stared, blurry-eyed at the hard-to-read menu on the wall, weighing our choices.

He explained the strict ordering process in detail. You start by deciding if you want anything grilled or deep fried, as in fries, vegetables, or items for your burger. Then, you need to select the type of bun, Kaiser, onion or pumpernickel, and how many patties you want. Since these are silver-dollar sized, you should opt for more than one. They'll only give a single to kids. I decided that a triple (three patties) would be sufficient, though my son, with a heartier appetite, went for the "quint," equal to a half-pound of meat. Once you decide on the burger size, you tell the cook which cheese you'd like, followed by the appropriate condiments. Blimpy's is one of the few "cash-only" establishments in town, so plan accordingly.


Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger
551 South Division
Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in restaurant guide
Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger website

  • Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-8 p.m.
  • Plastic: Cash only.
  • Liquor: No.
  • Prices: Inexpensive to moderate, depending upon the size burger you order. A triple burger, which includes condiments, is $3.40.
  • Value: Very good.
  • Noise Level: Loud. This place is small and usually crowded.
  • Wheelchair access: No.

Once we got through the line with no snafus, we sat at one of the few linoleum topped tables. The interior here is sparse, simple and weathered, which adds to the rustic charm of the place. As I took a bite into the burger we ordered with mushrooms and cheddar cheese, I immediately understood the appeal. It was delicious, with beef perfectly cooked (they only prepare it one way) and soft mushrooms, served on a fresh Kaiser roll. My son's quint was mammoth, served with American cheese and nicely grilled bacon. As if that wasn't filling enough, we indulged in the thick French fried potatoes and mixed veggies, part of the "feast from the deep" category on the menu. The batter was sufficient to cover them, but not too thick or too greasy. Onion rings, thin strips covered by a small layer of batter, were a standout. All the fried fare was great paired with the cocktail dipping sauce.

Blimpy's has one option for vegetarians: the veggie burger, which was thick and nicely seasoned, though a bit dry. I enjoyed the grilled chicken sandwich as well, where tarragon offered a sweet taste. A thick, gooey, frosted brownie capped off our meal. All this food can be had for a reasonable price. A plain triple is only $3.40, $3.95 with cheese. Certain toppings are extra.

As we left, the line was already beginning to form outside the door. It's clear to me why Blimpy Burger has had such a long-lasting, loyal following. I doubt that's likely to change.

Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for



Fri, Jul 30, 2010 : 9:33 a.m.

The reasoning behind the "rudeness" is simple. It is a small place. Save a seat and the person receiving their meal will not have a seat. Dawdle at the line and you slow down everyone behind you. A newbie? Just ask and the staff will help. And the staff? Nothing but fun with my family, it is just part of what makes this place stand from the chains. Now, if you send in out of towners without setting up their expectations- shame on you. If you think Blimpy can't live without you, try getting in on Saturday at noon. But if you do show up, thank you for being part of the theater!

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Mon, Jul 26, 2010 : 9:42 p.m.

as friends visit, blimpy;s is the -first- place we go for food. thereare other great places, and i tkae them there later, but blimpy;s is first. authour, however, musta missed the unique change poolicy. if you are due $3.75 in change, you receive $1, $2, $0.50 and $0.25. only one $2 and/or $0.50 per order though.


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 3:35 p.m.

This place is great. We happened to go there on April fools this year and they had the whole store set up as a nice fancy sit down restaurant. They had glass plates and cups with carafes of water. They had the grill area blocked off so you couldn't see them cook the food and they were all dressed in fancy clothes. We went for lunch and they were taking reservations for dinner where they were planning on serving a prime rib dinner options. Loved going there that day for such a great and fun experience!


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.

I see you mentioned gold, is that because of how much it costs to eat there? I think they need to change the slogan from "cheaper then food." I am very glad that you done the piece for this quarter on blimpy burger. Cant wait for the next one in Q3. Great reporting!!!!!


Fri, Jul 9, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

Looks like some of our fellow townies lack a sense of humor. Yes, BlimpieBurger is not a place if you want to be treated like you were the Queen of England. Loosen up a bit folks, it is a big joke after all.


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

They are good burgers, not the best but for sure an Ann Arbor standard. The overly rude thing is obnoxious, but I haven't been in a long time so I don't know about these days. "It isn't like the Soup Nazi or anything. If you have your stuff together there won't BE a problem." From the website.... "HELPFUL HINTS FOR BLIMPY VIRGINS: there is a set of time-honored rules that must be followed when you order your meal, otherwise you may risk the scorn and derision of the cooks and be subject to groans of agony from the patrons in line behind you! These are very important, so pay close attention - or print and bring 'em with you!" Well...I'd say that's pretty Soup Nazi to me (that quote is of course before they go into the complete rule listings which take up the ret of the page).

sad day

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

YUMMY!!!!!! Grew up on Blimpy Burgers, and still go back every chance I get, been doing it for 50 years. I make a point of bringing out of town guests there, JUST LUV IT


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Yeah, they are deliberately obnoxious. I'm not a fan. I'm polite to people, and I expect politeness back. There are plenty of places in town with good burgers where the staff haven't been told to act like jerks.

DaLast word

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 1:38 p.m.

@genericreg.....Chicken! you don't know what your missin

Patti Smith

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 9:43 a.m.

I feel ya, Julie. It took my husband and me years to "discover" Blimpy's and then we were like, "Where the heck have we been?" I've never been snapped at either. They just have expectations and expect you to meet them. If your kids are running around like lunatics or you are on the cell phone or something, then yeah, they might snap at you. Actually, maybe MORE people should snap when others are on their cell phones while conducting business...hmmmm....


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

the staff at Blimpy Burger aren't mean or obnoxious, they just are fun and outgoing! I used to eat a great burger at Bill's Toasty 40 years ago in Taylorville, IL and Blimpy's are equally as good! This is the real thing!!

Jennifer Shikes Haines

Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 9 a.m.

I've never been yelled at there, but I've also never gone in when it's been insane in terms of lines. I love Blimpie Burger, although at my age, about once a year is about the right amount. Great review!


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 8:07 a.m.

It isn't like the Soup Nazi or anything. If you have your stuff together there won't BE a problem. Just trying to avoid having brain-locked people holding up the line. I remember going in the 70s when there was a woman behind the counter named "Ruby" who always asked "Whatcha having?"


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 7:29 a.m.

Sorry, I am not interested in being yelled at for trying to buy someone's product or service.


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

The epitome of greasy spoon. Many moons ago I lived around the corner in South Quad. Me and the boys would duck over for a bite every now and again. I admit it: I helplessly addicted. But it's better now. I only indulge 4 or 5 times a year when my grease levels are feeling a bit low.


Thu, Jul 8, 2010 : 7:04 a.m.

Culinary delight personified @blimpyburger.